Austin may lead Texas in supporting LGBT rights, but City Council wants the city to also lead the nation. On March 22, Council approved Chris Riley's resolution calling for a review of Austin's Municipal Equality Index.
The Human Rights Campaign has issued MEI scorecards since 2012, a gauge of a city's performance on LGBT issues such as municipal services, non-discrimination laws, and relationship recognition. Although Austin received the maximum final score on the recently released 2013 MEI, this resolution will identify opportunities to do even better. It directs staff to work with such groups as the Human Rights Commission, Equality Texas, the Austin Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, and the Transgender Education Network of Texas, and to identify further ways to "create a supportive and inclusive city for both employees and residents."
"I'm proud to stand with the LGBT community and proud that Austin has a strong record on equality, but we can do better," said Riley. "Let's not just be No. 1 in Texas, let's be No. 1 in the country. Momentum is building across the country for greater equality, and Austin should be a leader."
The resolution drew praise from many in the Austin community, including Austin Human Rights Commission Chair Paul Rhea and AGLCC Vice President Ceci Gratias. State Rep. Celia Israel said, "Living up to the promise of equality and treating all Texans and their families with the dignity and equality they deserve should start in Austin, and I am proud of our City Council's work on this important issue."
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